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While most experts agree that Tibetan rug-making has a long history, there is no way to verify exactly how long that history was. Rug-making was not regarded as a fine art for most of Tibet's history, and very little effort was made to preserve Tibetan rugs or make records of them. For most of Tibet's history, Tibetan rugs were simply regarded as functional rather than decorative. They were often used in Tibetan monasteries for warmth and comfort when sitting on the floor. Western travelers who saw Tibetan rugs were almost always impressed with them. The art of Tibetan rug-making suffered a serious blow when Communist China took control of Tibet. Since then, the highest-quality Tibetan rugs have been made by expatriates living in Nepal or India who have adapted the Tibetan style to create rugs suitable for Western consumers.
For most of Tibet's history, Tibetan rugs were produced for two main types of clients: Tibetan monasteries and Tibetan aristocrats. Many aristocratic families organized workshops of rug weavers to make rugs for them, which could be used by the family or sold to others for a profit. Tibetan monasteries were equally important for rug weavers. Some of the wealthier Tibetan monasteries replaced their rugs frequently, providing an important source of income for rug weavers. Rug weavers could also trade in their rugs instead of paying taxes to the monasteries. Some simpler Tibetan rugs were created in the home for domestic use, but they were not of the same quality as those produced for the aristocracy and for the monasteries.
Before the 20th century, most Tibetan rugs were very simple both in terms of the range of colors used and the motifs and designs. Simple geometric motifs and medallions were often used in simple repeated patterns. Other motifs influenced by Chinese traditions were also sometimes employed. The color palette was limited to the colors that could be produced naturally, such as madder and indigo, which produced red and blue hues respectively. Yellows, browns, grays, and green could also be produced naturally. In the first half of the 20th century, more colors became available to Tibetan weavers due to the introduction of synthetic dyes. Tibetan rug weavers seemed to be inspired by this, as the rugs became not only more colorful but also began to use a greater variety of motifs, from dragons to phoenixes to flowers and more. Western influences also crept in, and many Westerners had a great deal of interest in the tiger rugs that were produced in Tibet.
Unfortunately, the production of quality rugs in Tibet ended with Communist control. Many Tibetan rug weavers became part of the people's labor force and could no longer weave or else escaped to other nations such as India and Nepal. Tibetan rug weaving came to a standstill until the 1970s, when the expatriates began making Tibetan style rugs in India and Nepal. These Tibetan rugs were often larger than the relatively small rugs produced for individuals in the monasteries. They were being produced with Western living rooms in mind. Today's quality Tibetan rugs are still being produced in Nepal and Tibet, though rug weaving has returned to Tibet in a limited form due to the scarcity of high-quality materials.
At Oriental Rug Care NY, we understand not only how Tibetan rugs are made but how best to clean, repair, and restore them. If you own a Tibetan rug, regular cleaning and care will help you to preserve your rug so that you can pass it on to the next generation. The Tibetan rug care experts at Oriental Rug Care NY will carefully clean and restore your rug so that it comes home more beautiful than ever. If you own a Tibetan rug, trust Oriental Rug Care NY with all your Tibetan rug care needs. We offer free pick-up and delivery to all our local customers, and we accept shipping from all 50 states. If you need your Tibetan rug cleaned or cared for, look no further than Oriental Rug Care NY.
Oriental Rug Care NY
106-02 Northern Blvd. Corona Queens, NY 11368
4 E 30th St, New York, NY 10016
25 E 31st St, New York, NY 10016